If you’re commuting to work by bicycle, you’re already beating the rest of the workforce when it comes to keeping your stress levels down for the day.
Numerous studies have shown that biking to work is one of the best ways to lower your overall stress levels and, accordingly, increase your productivity at the office.
Best of all, you get the de-stressing benefits of cycling even if you’re only hopping on the bike once a week instead of every day of the week.
However, commuting by bike can be a source of stress in its own right for some commuters. Dealing with other cars rushing by on a busy road, fighting through a mess of other cyclists on a popular bike path, poor weather, and the added time to your commute can all be sources of stress in the morning when you’re already dreading a day at work.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways that you can make your bike commute less stressful – in this article; we’ll cover some of our favorite things you can do to de-stress your ride.
One of the most common causes of anxiety for all cyclists, not just commuters, is riding on busy roads alongside cars that are going three times your speed or faster. This can be made all the worse if there is a section of your route that requires you to take the full lane, which can be dangerous on a busy road and can cause road-raged drivers to take out their own stress on you.
The fix? Change up your route.
Hop on Google Maps or Strava or try talking to other people in your area who commute to work by bike to find alternative ways to get from your home to work and back that avoid the roads that you find yourself most stressed on.
Even if changing your route takes you slightly out of your way, you’ll thank yourself for removing one of the most stressful parts of your mornings and afternoons from your routine.
Forgetting to keep a well-stocked flat tire repair kit on your bicycle is a quick way to add stress to your ride – just imagining the possibility that you could pop a tire with no way to fix it is enough to make you want to turn around and ride to the nearest bike shop.
Rather than leaving your flat kit up to chance, invest in a small top tube bag that you can fill with a flat repair kit and any other bike maintenance supplies you might find yourself needing on the road.
Beyond just telling you whether or not you should be packing a rain jacket for that day, checking the weather can let you know if you should even be riding in to work on a given morning.
If the forecast calls for rain and you immediately feel anxious about your ride, do yourself a favor and drive into work that day.
You’ll feel less stressed about bike commuting as a whole if you don’t put pressure on yourself to be in a bike-commute-or-else situation and listen to yourself about what will make you the least stressed.
Adding your favorite beats or an interesting podcast into your ride is a surefire way to lower your stress levels.
While headphones can impede your ability to hear traffic coming from behind you, studies have found that listening to music in one ear only is just as good as having both ears free when it comes to safety on the road.
Just make sure that you keep the volume low enough so that you remain fully aware of your surroundings.
Start your playlist or podcast before you leave the house so that you don’t have to pull out your phone during your ride. Steering with one hand while looking at your phone to change songs is definitely not a safe way to ride.
One of the best ways to reach a meditative, low-stress state of mind on the bike is simply to focus on your pedal stroke. The repetitive nature of pedaling is a great way to put your mind and body into a rhythm and release your thoughts from the stressful anxieties of thinking about the workday ahead or other problems in your life.
If you’re having fun during your ride, you’ll automatically be happier and less stressed since this means you won’t be thinking about the worries that want to crowd your mind.
Although it may seem silly at first, you can set yourself up to have fun by playing a game with yourself while cycling or setting yourself small riding challenges.
For example, you can challenge yourself to pick out a new piece of the scenery along your commute each day or to find a license plate from every state throughout a few months’ worths of commuting.
Okay, bringing your kids could definitely be more stressful rather than less. But for many parents, time spent commuting with your kids is terrific bonding time that makes everyone less stressed and leaves you feeling happy about the extra time you got to spend with your family.
Just be sure to understand the added logistical complexities that come with riding with your kids – and remember, this can be a once in a while treat rather than an everyday part of your commute.
No one says you have to wear your work clothes during your bike commute, and often you’ll be less stressed about getting sweaty and gross during your ride if your daytime outfit is safely stashed away in a pannier.
Instead, choose a cycling outfit that you think makes you look good – because when you think you look good, you feel better about yourself.
The result is that you’re instantly slightly less stressed about the day, just because of what you’re wearing during your commute.
Bike commuting is already a great way to remove stress from your life and work, but even cycling into work can be a source of stress if you’re not proactive about enjoying the ride.
With a few modifications to your commuting routine, you can make sure that every ride is keeping your stress levels low and leaving you ready to tackle the day when you arrive at work.
With Rydoze, I just want to share my experiences and help you along on your cycling journey. I’m putting the answers to all of your biking questions in one place. From the most basic to the advanced. You’ll find the information you need.